10 Long Term Trends of Real Substance


baby.jpgThe level of hype right now with “social networking” and technology is getting a bit out of hand. It’s a little bit like 1999 all over again! While what’s happening right now is important, it’s more fun to think about some of the things that are happening on a 15-20 year horizon. Big change is everywhere, and most people miss the big transformations while they are underway. Here’s my list of some of the trends we should really be watching.

  • rapid movers start to predominate: some of today’s XBox/Wii players are going to be CEO’s of big companies within 15-20 years. The high-velocity economy is just starting to take off. Just wait until the Gen-Connect starts to run things.
  • everything is gaining intelligence: chips and connectivity are immersing themselves into everday, ordinary things, and you likely aren’t even noticing. Hyperconnectivity changes everything: bioconnectivity and device-intelligence are the things to watch.
  • volatility is the new normal: increasing connectivity increases the likelihood of cascading failures. Risk management is becoming more important, and more complex. Fewer organizations pay serious attention to the complexity of risk, leading to greater potential for short, sharp economic shocks.
  • boredom increasingly drives markets: people can’t stop fidgeting with their cell phones long enough to pay attention to anything. Clarity of value is critical, creativity is crucial, engagement is the next brand foundation.
  • transformational change is everywhere: there are lots of people dying to mess up the fundamentals in almost every industry, and they aren’t your competitors. Industry blurring will continue unabated, as rebellion against established business models becomes the norm; think GoogleCar, not Toyota. Flexibility with change is critical.
  • the bar of expectations continues to increase: you have to innovate to keep up with the expectations of your customer, partners and suppliers, or you don’t survive. An increasing number of brands will expire and become something from “the olden days,” simply because their organizations lack the ability to innovate.
  • the “created in China” phase comes next: half the population is under the age of 25. They’re wired, highly collaborative, and have tasted the early stages of economic success. Innovation is thriving – forget manufacturing, think design.
  • big trends rule. Over 20 years, health care transitions from prevention to detection; ethanol moves from distillation to production; manufacturing goes from production to fabbing. There are big, sweeping industrial changes underway, and it has nothing to do with the current hype around “social networking,” et al.
  • knowledge and discovery exponentiates: the new global-mind generates new knowledge at furious rates. We’re going from 19 million known chemical substances today, to 80 million by 2025, and 5 billion by 2100. Any new substance can lead to the emergence of a billion dollar market. Discovery rules, time-to-market defines.
  • experiential capital dominates over financial capital: over a 20 year span, it’s the depth of experience that counts; the agility to respond to rapid change that will define the success or death of an organization. Money thrown at innovation doesn’t work; the knowledge that comes from trying things out, and learning from the experience, leads to greater innovation success.

These are all things I’ve written about on this blog over time. The trends are all quite simple to understand, surround us today, and are breathtaking in scope.


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.